Saturday, February 24, 2007

[high speed trains] best of luck on your journey

Last night's Lambrigg crash:

Morning light revealed the front two carriages of the train, which has a special tilting mechanism that enables it to reach speeds of 125 mph, had been hurled off the track and down a verge. Seven other carriages snaked along an embankment, with one twisted on to its side.

Long ago, I ran a post on high speed train crashes and commenter ScotsToryB answered me …

James, are you being ironic? Maglev is magnetic levitation i.e. the train is raised by magnetic force thus moving with least friction possible. If the power(to create the magnetic field) failed the train should roll to a stop. I am not an engineer but suspect a failure in the infrastructure.

Devil's Kitchen also put the overly fearful Higham straight …

James, as you can see from the picture, it isn't held on by magnetism; it is levitated and propelled by magnetism. Information
here.

Thank you kindly for patiently explaining that and I'm sure my fears are unfounded but one thing is for certain - I'll only ever take the slow train to York, Manchester or Edinburgh, thank you very much, if it's all the same to you.

3 comments:

Nigel Sedgwick said...

James, you need to look here at transport accident statistics.

A rough summary, averaged over the last 5 years, is:for railways 0.2 fatalities per billion passenger kilometres; for motorways, about 95 per billion vehicle km; all roads (including motorways) about 430 fatalities per billion vehicle kilometres.

[And 1 billion kilometres takes 1,189 years at 60mph.]

So, railways are considerably safer than roads, by a factor of over two thousand.

Concerning aircraft, I recollect a presentation by the UK chief air accident investigator that one would have to fly every day for 4,000 years to have a 50/50 chance of being involved in an "air incident", and if you were, you would, more than likely, survive.

Perhaps James and others who fear death in a train or aircraft need to get a grip on reality.

Best regards

Nigel Sedgwick said...

Sorry that's wrong. The preview got posted by mistake, before I checked the figures; I think the problem was that hitting return "posted" rather than "previewed".

The correct posting should be the same for trains and much better for cars, as follows.

People should aware of UK transport accident statistics.

A rough summary, averaged over the last 5 years, is: for railways 0.22 fatalities per billion passenger kilometres; for motorways, about 0.35 fatalities per billion vehicle km; all roads (including motorways) about 6.25 fatalities per billion vehicle kilometres.

[And 1 billion kilometres takes 1,189 years at 60mph.]

So, railways are safer than roads, by a factor of well over twenty.

Concerning aircraft, I recollect a presentation by the UK chief air accident investigator where he said that one would have to take a flight every day for 4,000 years to have a 50/50 chance of being involved in an "air incident", and if you were, survival was the most likely outcome (as most air incidents are just near misses or similar).

Perhaps James and others who fear death in a train or aircraft need to get a closer grip on the actuality.

Best regards

james higham said...

Thanks, Nigel - you've set the mind at rest. Irrationally, I'm still going by the slow train. The idea of levitation turns me into a Luddite. Sorry to be perniciously and fatuously illogical on this.